Israeli missing teenagers: Hamas warns 'gates of hell will open' as Israel bombs Gaza strip

Netanyahu says trio 'were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by human animals'

Hamas has warned Israel against waging war on the Gaza strip in retaliation for the deaths of three kidnapped Israeli youths, threatening that "the gates of hell will open" should action be taken.

The response came after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed: "Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay", following the discovery of the bodies of the three missing youths yesterday.

The Israeli military struck 34 targets across the Gaza Strip overnight after more than 20 rockets were fired from the territory into Israel since late Sunday.

Hamas, however, responded warning against any broad offensive on the territory. Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: "Netanyahu should know that threats don't scare Hamas, and if he wages a war on Gaza, the gates of hell will open on him."

Mr Netanyahu said the teenagers "were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by human animals", as he convened an emergency meeting of his security cabinet.

Video: Israeli forces clash with Palestinian protesters

According to reports Israeli troops flooded into the Palestinian town of Halhul where the bodies of the three kidnapped teenagers were found.

Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-American citizenship, disappeared on June 12 while hitchhiking home from the Jewish seminaries where they were studying near the West Bank city of Hebron.

Read more: Bodies of three teens 'abducted by Hamas' found by army in West Bank
Netanyahu accuses Hamas of kidnapping Israel's three missing boys
Israel searches West Bank for teens feared seized by Palestinian militants

Despite the dangers, hitchhiking is common among Israelis travelling in and out of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

In an operation codenamed Brother's Keeper, Israel dispatched thousands of troops across the West Bank in search of the youths, closed roads in the area and arrested 400 Hamas operatives throughout the territory.

The search ended yesterday afternoon with the discovery of the bodies under a pile of rocks in a field north of Hebron.

Israel has identified two well-known Hamas operatives from Hebron as the primary suspects.

Naftali Frankel, Gil-ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach went missing on 12 June Naftali Frankel, Gil-ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach went missing on 12 June (Reuters)

The men, Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisheh, remain on the run and military officials said the search for them would continue.

The search for the teenagers became a national obsession. Israeli media delivered round-the-clock updates, senior officials held daily televised briefings and Israelis held prayer vigils.

The mothers of the three teenagers became public figures as they campaigned for their sons' return, at one point travelling to Geneva to address the UN Human Rights Council.

 

News of their deaths prompted an outpouring of grief. Large crowds of supporters rushed to the homes of the families in the central Israeli towns of Nof Ayalon and Elad, and the West Bank settlement of Talmon, while supporters lit memorial candles and prayed.

Israelis are this evening preparing to bury three teenagers who were kidnapped over two weeks ago amid a surge of violence that has followed the discovery of their bodies.

The Israeli army said the air force has targeted dozens of locations in the Gaza Strip. Troops also shot dead a Palestinian man in the West Bank, where the young people disappeared on June 12.

Video: The last call from Israeli teenagers

In Washington, president Barack Obama sent his "deepest and heartfelt condolences" to the families. "As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing," he said. Yet he urged "all parties" to refrain from steps that could further destabilise the situation.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon issued a similar condemnation of the "heinous crime", but also urged the sides to "refrain from any actions that could further escalate this highly tense situation".

Israel's military said a Palestinian was shot dead when he threw a grenade at forces carrying out an arrest raid hours after the discovery of the bodies of the Israeli teenagers.

A spokesman said the clash occurred in the West Bank town of Jenin. It was the first casualty since the bodies were found.

Addtional reporting by AP.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk